Toivo Kallas of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and a team from Madurai Kamaraj University sign a memorandum of agreement for transfer of biofuel knowledge and technology.

TheHindu.com reports that Madurai Kamaraj University (MKU), in southern Tamil Nadu, India, has signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with Algoma Algal Biotechnology (AABT), a limited liability company started through the research work at University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh (UWO) in the US, for mutual transfer of knowledge and technology in the field of producing biofuel from microalgae.

University sources said Toivo Kallas, a Distinguished Professor of Microbial Genetics and Biotechnology at UWO and the CEO of AABT, whose research includes photosynthetic energy conversion reactions and environmental responses of cyanobacteria and micro-algae, took interest in the research work led by P. Varalakshmi, an Assistant Professor with the Department of Molecular Biology at MKU. Ms. Varalakshmi said that her team had identified certain strains of microalgae which have shown great potential as feedstock for the production of biofuel.

According to Ms. Varalakshmi, Mr. Kallas and his team, who were working at a technologically advanced level in the field, wanted to collaborate on the possibility of using genetic engineering and other techniques to improve the efficiency of energy conversion by the strains of microalgae identified by her team. “The idea is to move towards commercialized production of biofuel from microalgae,” she said.

Mr. Kallas said that alternate feedstock for fuel resources has gained utmost importance in the world, owing to the fast depletion of fossil fuels, and he expected the collaboration with MKU to open up new arenas in exploration of carbon dioxide mitigation strategies.

“Promotion of scientific research has always been important to MKU,” said P.P. Chellathurai, vice-chancellor of the university, “and this collaboration is a milestone in MKU’s history since it is in the important area of biofuel, which has significance in addressing the pressing issue of climate change.”

Chinniah, Registrar, signed the agreement on behalf of the university.

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